Personal pass just the ticket for Marion
Rugby fanatic Marion van Borssum couldn't keep her hands off Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith when he personally delivered her season pass yesterday.
After more than 40 years supporting the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes, having one in her Upper Hutt home was enough to make her husband, Ray, a little jealous.
The couple, in their 70s, used to live in Adelaide Rd, Newtown, when Athletic Park was still in existence and Mrs van Borssum recalls offering food and use of the toilet to the lines of fans that used to start arriving the night before a game.
"They were great times back then and when we left Adelaide Rd I got all my rugby memorabilia together and donated it to the Upper Hutt Rugby Club, because I wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it," she said.
One of just over 3000 Hurricanes season-ticket holders to date, Mrs van Borssum said her sporty upbringing playing hockey and basketball kick-started her avid rugby following. Smith impressed Mrs van Borssum right from his debut game for the Wellington Lions in 2003 at Westpac Stadium against Bay of Plenty.
"I happened to sit down next to Graham Henry and he asked me who I thought had some talent on the field and I said I liked the look of Conrad Smith," she said.
"He looked like a nice young man with potential and wasn't greedy with the ball on the field."
Sir Graham could not recall the conversation when The Dominion Post spoke to him yesterday, though Smith was a mainstay of the All Blacks midfield during his tenure as coach.
Mrs van Borssum has always fancied herself as a coach and said the Hurricanes would do well to have a woman giving advice.
Yesterday it was Smith who got the free words of wisdom.
"Look after your eye, play safe and well, if you're going to do something stupid think about it quickly before you do, and score lots of tries," Mrs van Borssum instructed.
Smith described the crowd turnouts in Wellington as fickle but said meeting the fans that had stayed true over the years reaffirmed the support was there.
"It's always great to turn out and play at home, but to play in front of a big crowd of fans and sponsors is even better," he said.
Season tickets have been declining in the past few years, but sales are up 5 per cent on last year.
The Dominion Post